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Exit Interview: Patricia Shehan Campbell

Submitted by Joanne De Pue on June 1, 2022 - 12:25pm
Professor Patricia Sheehan Campbell
Professor Patricia Sheehan Campbell

A closing lecture on June 8 at the Music Building marks a chapter ending of a remarkably productive career for Professor Patricia Shehan Campbell, who has announced her retirement from the University of Washington after 33 years as a faculty member in the School of Music.

Campbell holds appointments in Music Education and Ethnomusicology, and has served as chair of both programs at various times in the past decades since her arrival at the UW in 1989. Under her oversight the School of Music initiated and shepherded a longstanding partnership of 28 years with Laurelhurst Elementary School to place UW graduate students in the classroom to provide music instruction to young students. Campbell also oversaw for 23 years the Music Alive! In the Yakima Valley program, which yearly sends UW graduate students to eastern Washington to work with students in the Yakama Nation Tribal Schools. Together with her UW students and faculty colleagues, she has authored numerous books, articles, and other publications for presentation at conferences around the world and in leading academic journals in the fields of world music pedagogy and music education. 

Though her immediate plans following retirement are to unplug and go off-grid for some rest and relaxation, she also looks forward to upcoming travels to Tanzania to work on a new book, has accepted a year-long Distinguished Chair position at Carleton University in Ottawa, and looks forward to an upcoming guest lectureship at the University of Ljubljana as well as ongoing work as a consultant to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. It's safe to say that Professor Campbell's "retirement" will be anything but idle.

This interview between Professor Campbell and School of Music publicist Joanne DePue was conducted via email.

What is the first thing you look forward to doing once you are retired?
Going off-the-grid, remote, probably up to the mountains ASAP.

Can you elaborate on what you mean when you say you’ll have more time for your own music once you are retired?
Back to Bach! I need to play (piano) again, regularly. I look forward to returning, too, to time on my Japanese koto and Irish harp.

What advice would you give to a new School of Music faculty member?
Continue to go deep into specialized study, whether as an artist, composer, scholar, or educator, and innovate, invent, and hone new perspectives within the specialization. At the same time, look for the nexus between the specializations, the overlaps and commonalities, so that we might “stick together” in making a solid statement on music’s place here at the university and its role and importance in society at large.

What is one thing you won’t miss about the School of Music when you retire?
The annual parking fee, and the *very* tight parking spaces in the N-16 region.

What is one thing you will miss about the School of Music (or the UW) when you retire
Oh my, the people! We’ve all been missing the people, in 3D—faculty, staff, and students—since March 2020.  The upside is that I’ll have 33 years of “people-stories” that I can carry with me everywhere I go.

What music are you listening to these days in your down time?
A barrage: Beausoleil, Dakha Brakha, Hukwe Zawose, Ivo Papasov, Kirk Franklin, Leenalchi, Mariachi Vargas, Nickel Creek, Rhiannon Giddens, Ulali, and a few choice pieces by J.S. Bach, Bartok, and Debussy.

You’re stranded on a desert island and have with you just one piece of music or album. What would it be?
Joni Mitchell: Blue, not only for its genius as a song cycle, but because it was the go-to music for me in my formative years, when every tune was on my set-list for the circuit of university folk clubs in which I played…in another life.

How has being a university professor changed you?
University “professor-ing” can remove us from the joy of music (making). Teaching is surely satisfying, and we frequently find ourselves energized by the new ideas our students develop in courses and through their research endeavors. Over the years, I’ve shifted into the role of a teaching musician, singing, playing, and dancing with students the music that they take with them into their own teaching. I’ve learned that at the university level, we give and we take, such that students teach their profs, too, and profs learn tons from their students in music, about music, and on the process by which we learn music. I’ve also found myself in the world of words here at the university, and have enjoyed the privilege of research and writing on topics of music in the lives of children, music in community, and the pedagogy of world music.  

What is one thing a UW faculty member said or did that you will never forget?
More than what they’ve said, I’m buoyed by the genuine commitment of colleagues to musically educating our undergraduate and graduate students in Music Education and Ethnomusicology.  In particular, I recall the endless energy of Barbara Lundquist, professor emerita in Music Education, who hired me in 1989, and the steady-state and on-target professionalism of Christopher Roberts, current director of Music Teacher Education; I’m forever inspired, influenced, and uplifted by their infinite devotion to developing students as musicians, teachers, and scholars. I’m especially fond of Marisol Berrios-Miranda, affiliate faculty colleague in Ethnomusicology, a phenomenon within our midst, too, and I treasure the beautiful demonstrations of her belief that “to know the music, you must feel the music (in your body)."

What is your greatest hope for your past and current students?
That they will strike the balance of “home and school” and give attention to their personal, professional, and civic lives. My advice for those in university teaching is to recognize the privilege of working in music and with vibrant students, and to strive to understand colleagues as the interesting and inventive people that they are.

 What are some of your proudest UW accomplishments as faculty member/chair in Music Education and Ethnomusicology?

  • That we’d hired Steve Demorest (1994) and Steve Morrison (1996) in Music Education, and Shannon Dudley (1996) and Christina Sunardi (2008) in Ethnomusicology.
  • That in Music Education, we continued an historic emphasis on musical-cultural diversity, developed a research-based MA program, and established (in 1994) the PhD program for research in music in teaching and learning.
  • That we’ve graduated well over 500 “teaching musicians” to school positions since 1989, and have placed 40-plus PhDs on university faculties across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia.
  • That we’ve hosted Fulbright and government-sponsored scholars for up to a year’s residency with us in research and teaching from Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, the U.K.
  • That we developed, in 2014, two three-year partnership programs in Music Education through the UW Office of Global Affairs with the University of Dar es Salaam (Department of Performing Arts), Tanzania, and Gitameit Academy in Yangon, Myanmar.
  • That we initiated a partnership in 1994 with Laurelhurst Elementary School, now running 28 years, in offering a first-class musical education to children, much of it devoted to the development of their intercultural understanding through experience and study of music from across the world.
  • That we established in 1999 a 23-year program called “Music Alive! In the Yakima Valley”, bringing music to children and youth in Toppenish, Harrah, and White Swan, thanks to external funding of $500K. Since 2015, we’ve shifted the program to collective song-writing such that students at the Yakama Nation Tribal School are musically expressing their identities and values through the songs they write together with the facilitation of our graduate students in Music Education and Ethnomusicology.
  • That in Ethnomusicology, we’d introduced the BA in Ethnomusicology (2012)—one of very few in the country, and re-charged the Visiting Artists in Ethnomusicology program so that our students have opportunities to learn from world-class A-to-Z artist musicians, quite literally from Afghanistan (Homayoun Sakhi) to Zimbabwe (Dumisani Maraire), and from artists in local cultural communities.
  • That we purchased in 2012 a beautiful Javanese gamelan and arranged for the crafting of Shona-style Zimbabwean marimbas to the specifications of specialists in the music.
  • That we’ve developed a symbiotic relationship between Music Education and Ethnomusicology like no other university on the planet, such that students in the two programs engage together in the study of music and its role in developing human relationships through expressive musical practice.

What are your immediate plans for the future past June 30?
This summer will be my eighth visit to Tanzania, this time for a book contracted by Taylor and Francis, followed by time in Norway in late August for an invited keynote at a meeting of musicologists on the topic of children’s musical cultures.

I’ve been offered the Distinguished Chair in Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada for 2022-23, so will be locating myself there for research on the presence of music and the arts in the enculturation of children in Indigenous First Nations communities.

I’ve accepted the invitation for a return visit as guest lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Education at the University of Ljubljana, sometime in the next year.

I’ll continue on as educational consultant to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and board member of Alan Lomax’s Association for Cultural Equity (and his Global Jukebox).

Future plans include longer swims, weekday-hikes, reading outside the field, fewer emails, and more music. 

Any other last thoughts you’d like to share?
In these challenging times, the sustainability of university programs in music and the arts is frequently in question and yet all the more necessary. My hope is that here at the UW, there can be strong support of School of Music efforts to hone the artistic-expressive dimensions of our human potential, to offer students an understanding of music’s place in human history, heritage and culture, and to prepare music majors not only to perform but also to facilitate music-making experiences for children, youth, and adults in our schools and communities. Our programs in Music Education and Ethnomusicology, from undergraduate studies to the PhD, are at the core of these efforts, and will require the support of administrators who will stand behind the university’s declared valuing of the pursuit of global engagement and human connectedness--through music, and the fostering of cutting-edge scholarship--in music.  

Patricia Campbell delivers a closing lecture, "Music Education in the Public Sphere: Past Glances and Future Forecasts," at the School of Music on Wednesday, June 8. Details are available here.